Nano Stern + Trio: Redefining Chilean Folk Music

Nano Stern, the name that has paved the road to the refined and ingenious sound of modern Chilean folk, returned to Santiago last month, playing a two-hour set at the Teatro Nescafe de las Artes.

Photo courtesy Alvaro Gajardo Aedo
Photo courtesy Alvaro Gajardo Aedo

Stern has been playing show after show in Chile since January 2010 and recently performed in Concepcion along with Camila Moreno, Chinoy and more than 15 other artists at La Cumbre del Folk Chileno.

He has recently worked with Australian folk artist Kavisha Mazzella and was invited for the 5th season of the Brazilian radio program ZOOMBIDO with Paulinho Moska

Photo courtesy Alvaro Gajardo Aedo
Photo courtesy Alvaro Gajardo Aedo

as the second non-Brazilian artist to ever participate in the show. The series usually invites Brazilian artists to share and converse about their personal experiences and musical journeys.

Stern is the only Latin American musician to have participated in a groundbreaking collaboration called "Ethno in Transit" in which a group of young musicians from all over the world get together every year to share and explore the musical possibilities of traditional folk.

Stern began his show in Santiago with the song Acantilado from his second solo album, Voy y Vuelvo, and soon had the crowd singing with him to El Amanacer (The Sunrise).

He continued with Cementerio but before playing, paused to tell the story of the song explaining that he had written it about an intimate experience in a cemetery with an ex-girlfriend. They had broken up and he was in another country when he found out that she had passed away. The song now has a profound and heart-wrenching irony and Stern urges his audience to express their feelings to the one they love, a thousand times over.

On a more political note, Stern brought out the long-awaited violin and with it a cover of the raw folk sounds of la famosa Violeta Parra, singing Cantores que reflexionan.

Photo courtesy Alvaro Gajardo Aedo
Photo courtesy Alvaro Gajardo Aedo

A Nano Stern concert wouldn’t be the same without a Parra tribute. He modernized this 1960’s piece by sneaking in a political witticism or two about Chile’s current President.

As the night progressed, the music became bluesier, the jams carried on a little longer and at one point, his sister Claudia joined him on stage for a duet. He then invited drummer Daniel Rodriguez and double bass player Daniel Navarrete on stage to complete “the trio” and his animated stage presence became even more energetic as the music evolved toward a more complex and accomplished sound.

He was next joined by his musical mentor, Antonio Restucci, and continued with the song Los peces muertos, playing just as skillfully with a broken violin string as he sunk into the back and sat down on stage to allow the spotlight to shine on Rodriguez for a five minute drum solo.

Stern has commented that “In a world in which musical boundaries are as stupid as those of countries, [he’d] rather not go into styles and genres.” His show demonstrated this talent of going beyond those boundaries and superseding the genre of anything normally dubbed as Chilean Folk.

With his mix of cool Jazz and Latin American folk-rock, the sound produced was full of life and the words with timeless themes and cultural pride. He has succeeded in keeping the traditional core and heart of folk alive while experimenting with everything from classical to Balkan folk.

He is now heading back to perform in Germany and the United Kingdom and Revolver will be eagerly awaiting his return to Chile.

Nano Stern

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